It is true; life does come to an end. Dying and of course birth are the commonality we all will experience. Since we have already been born and since you are reading this you have not yet died. Therefore, it is in all of our best interests to find a way to insure that all people’s deaths are without pain and with dignity.

No matter how sick we are, we remain human beings and should always be treated with the dignity due all human beings. Currently, our doctors are not reimbursed adequately to allow them to provide the much needed emotional support and counseling to people in the end of life. Many of the issues they should be helping with can actually be dealt with long before the actual end is imminent. However, to see this become a reality we need to pay for it and make it a part of the doctor’s best practice requirement.

Living wills, hospice care, leaving a written legacy are all issues that should be discussed long before we are on our deathbed. These are the actual items in the current proposals for health care reform that have been mistakenly characterized as “death panels.” These items just make good sense.

No matter where you find yourself in the current discussions, I urge that you see the value and the critical need for these services to all Americans.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW